Whitney Drewrey was selected as Lafayette’s first ever Mississippi Teacher of the Year. Drewrey is the special education teacher for the upper elementary school, and she was honored on Apr. 7 with a ceremony on the football field.
Lafayette County’s Director of Special Education Services Jennifer Osborne gave a speech about Drewrey’s hard work and dedication to her job.
“Mrs. Drewrey is the epitome of what we all should strive to be,” Osborne said. “Mrs. Drewrey is loved by all who know her at Lafayette Upper Elementary. She is a parent figure, a teacher, a counselor, a doctor and nurse, a psychologist, everything rolled into one.”
After an introduction from one of her students, Drewrey began by speaking about how honored she was to receive the award. Drewrey then explained the importance of dedication and the ability to realise your potential.
“Being in middle school, I can’t even say I was a great student,” Drewrey said. “I had lots of potential and I could pass a test when I needed to, which drove my parents and teachers crazy, but I had no motivation. I accepted mediocrity. I tell you all this to say I became a teacher so I could be a person like the one that I needed.”
Drewrey hopes to use this award as an opportunity to better the school system and make sure every student is given an opportunity to learn, as well as bring more attention to Lafayette and the state of Mississippi as a whole.
“My job is now to use this platform to speak for all of you students, and to show others, my colleagues and students alike, that every child can learn. We need to start a ripple effect beginning in our district and community to work statewide and nationwide and show others that Mississippi produces productive citizens that contribute to society. I will assure you, that the rest of the nation will know how hard we work in Mississippi,” Drewrey said.
Drewrey attributed her getting the award to two people she knew, Misty Robinson and Sherry Bufford. Drewrey explained how she quit teaching after her first day of her first job, and that Robinson encouraged her to try teaching again.
Sherry Buford was a close friend and colleague of Drewrey for fourteen years. According to her, Buford was the best teacher Drewrey has ever known.
“She loved children with all of her heart, and she loved the whole child as a person, not a number, a name, a disability, or economic group.”
She finished her speech by thanking her family and the people she works with, as well as the school district, for letting her be the teacher that she is.
Lafayette Upper Elementary Principal Thomas Tillman spoke afterwards, and he talked about knowing Drewrey.
“I had the distinct pleasure of meeting and hiring Mrs. Drewrey while serving at a neighboring district, and last year I had the same opportunity to hire her again here at Lafayette,” Tillman said. “Mrs. Drewrey has, in a very short time, made a lasting impression upon her peers, the administration, and the students which she serves. She is comical, energetic, and very passionate about her students and their learning.”
After a performance of “The Time of My Life” by the Lafayette High School choir, the superintendent Dr. Adam Pugh gave a speech praising the work of Drewrey.
“This is a huge deal not only for Mrs. Drewrey but for our district,” Pugh said. “This is like a state championship in all classifications.”
Students were then dismissed. Now, Drewrey hopes to continue inspiring teachers and students throughout Mississippi and the entire country.